Our favorite movies of 2018

1. The Other Side of the Wind— After sitting unfinished for decades, Orson Welles has a new film. The Other Side of the Wind, a bleak and bleakly funny dig at the movie industry, centers on Jake Hannaford (John Huston), a drunken, disillusioned movie director.  His birthday celebration becomes an excuse for all manner of people to gather and talk shit about him while enjoying his latest movie (also called The Other Side of the Wind). Shot like a mockumentary from a variety of perspectives of people at the party and interspersed with stunning footage of Hannaford’s movie-within-a-movie, The Other Side of the Wind is as disorienting as it is difficult to shake. Welles’ last completed film is a bitter vision of a rotting, death-stalked Hollywood, and a masterpiece.

2. Let the Sunshine In— Claire Denis’ Let the Sunshine In moves to the beat of Juliette Binoche. The two French titans prove a revelatory pairing, matching Denis’ inimitable rendering of bodies searching for connection with Binoche’s conjuring of simultaneous conflicting feelings. In telling the story of Isabelle, a painter stuck dancing between romance and disappointment, Denis structures the movie more around the character’s emotional whims than along a traditional narrative. Though her encounters with men end mostly with disappointment, Isabelle’s sudden eruptions of passion, including during a show-stopping, Etta James-backed dance sequence, suggest that her endless cycle of pursuits is not in vain.

Continue reading

REVIEW: The Headless Woman

The Headless Woman
Directed by: Lucrecia Martel
Written by: Lucrecia Martel (screenplay)
Starring: María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, César Bordón, and Daniel Genoud

I glanced at Film Comment’s top films of 2009 expecting to see the usual: The Hurt Locker, Precious, Avatar, and Up in the Air.  Other than the first one, I saw none of them in the top twenty.  Occupying the number two slot on that list, which polls many of the countries most prominent film critics, was this unassuming low budget picture from Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel.

The Headless Woman follows Veronica (María Onetto), a wealthy dentist who hits something- maybe a dog, maybe a child- with her car.  She stops for a moment on the dusty road, but does not get out.  The guilt plagues her, destroying her image of herself and making her an alien in her own life.  The premise doesn’t allow for much in the way of story, but this is an excellent character study.

Continue reading